QUESTION: Trademarks, Copyrights & Patents -- What's Your Protection Plan?
No matter what you sell – a tangible product or a unique service – your business is built around some form of intellectual property. Have you taken steps to protect said property from competitors or, even worse, copycats? We’re curious:
Have you registered for a trademark, copyright or patent? Which protection plan do you have? Did you hire an attorney to help you? What was the process like?
We’d love to hear your insights about this important topic. Sharing your experience will help other members, too. Thanks for taking the time to tell us what you know!
I am very interested in this topic as well please!
I have been doing quite a bit of research in this area but I still feel like I could make a very expensive mistake if approached incorrectly.
Key Terminology to Know:
Trademark: Generally are a word, phrase, design, symbol, or a combination used to distinguishes your product from another. They usually protect brand names and logos
Service mark: Generally are a word, phrase, design, symbol, or a combination used to distinguishes your services from another.
Copyright: Protect the original content creator (usually considered artistic or literary work).
Patent: Protects an invention.
Example of differences:
Lets assume we invented a new QuickBooks application:
The Patent would protect your invention.
The Copyright would protect the content created to market the invention.
The Trademark would protect the name or the logo of the invention.
Likelihood of Confusion with Other Marks:
This is the most common reason that the USPTO will refuse a registration. This is often the case when:
The marks are similar
when the goods or services are related in a way that it would cause confusion in the mind of the consumer.
Cost of Filing:
Current prices to file begins at $225.00 (non refundable) to file online.
The cost of filing may increase based on the class your trademark falls into. If your product or service falls into multiple classes, a separate filing fee is required for each of the potential classes.
Even if a trademark has been acquired, it is possible for a company that previously held the mark to be allowed to continue using the mark if they can prove that they used and registered it first.
I have attached a PDF document from the USPTO that focuses on Protecting your Trademark
What is the best way to protect the creation of a workflow design if all parts of the workflow already exist? More specifically, I have designed numerous efficient workflows that I would be interested in protecting if possible.
While it is possible to file without the assistance of an attorney, it is strongly suggested to at least consult one ( especially since I am not a specialist). Hiring a specialized attorney will help ensure that all deadlines are procedures are follows appropriately. For example, while applying for a trademark, it is necessary to state if the mark is already in use as well as the first date used.
Patenting software is a tough road from what I understand, and there are renewal fees on a patent too.
Copyright, on the other hand exists the moment you create it. You may or may not register it, regardless it is your property. Like this post is my copyright, UNTIL I post it, then (usually and I have not checked this site) by posting here I transfer the copyright to the forum owner automatically.
I forget the percentage, I think it is 20% of the source code has to be provided to the copyright office if you file for copyright.
The issue is really the future, as I see it, are you willing to not only monitor competitors, but also fund any legal action that is required to enforce your copyright?